US Partnering Award: Campylobacter 'omics' and their contribution towards food safety

Lead Research Organisation: Quadram Institute Bioscience
Department Name: Contracts

Abstract

The bacterial pathogen Campylobacter is the most common cause of foodborne bacterial gastroenteritis in the industrialised world. Pathogenic Campylobacter species are common constituents of the natural gut flora of birds and animals, and enter the human food chain principally on meat via faecal and caecal contamination. Campylobacteriosis is a major public health concern, and an important economic concern because of its natural association with especially poultry; in addition to work days lost, outbreaks also affect export opportunities.
In the last 20 years, technological developments have allowed the use of high-throughput strategies for the investigation of biological properties of organisms, and these are known as 'omics' technologies. In recent years, these 'omics' approaches have made important contributions to the understanding of the ecology, epidemiology and evolution of Campylobacter, and may serve as a basis for practical applications aimed at reducing contamination and the burden of disease. Currently, genome sequences are being determined from Campylobacter isolates originating from diverse sources in the UK and the US. These data may hold the key to important questions about the global population structure of Campylobacter, the emergence of pathogenic lineages and the origin of human infection. However, in spite of the potential benefits of collaboration, ongoing efforts in both countries are still relatively disjointed, and will benefit from a concerted research effort.
This BBSRC US partnership award will be used to synchronize research approaches between leading Campylobacter research groups in the UK (IFR, University of Swansea) and the US (USDA-ARS). Through research visits and the organisation of two workshops (one in the US, one in the UK), experts will be able to join forces to optimally focus and disseminate information, and work on a concerted trans-atlantic research agenda for Campylobacter research in the post-genomic era.

Publications

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